Action Research is pretty groovy.
I dig the whole principle that we should reflect upon our actions and how they affect those around us
The fact that a method of research is based on the principle that we are “all connected in deep ways, and, because we are made of the same stuff as stars, we are ultimately connected to the whole of creation”, (Mcniff and Whitehead 2003) is far out, and the hippy chick within me wants to throw flowers in the air in celebration.
Okay, the spirit of free love to one side, the point of Action Research is learning from self-reflection. Self reflection is something the media regularly exploit to win an audience. Big Brother contestants are invited in to the diary room and asked questions about their behaviour and what they have learned from it, celebrities are encouraged to confess their misdemeanors and consider how they have effected those around them.
Take Tiger Woods for example. The sporting hero was the stuff of capitalist dreams. Talent and hard work enabled the ordinary Middle Class lad to become one of the richest sportsman on the planet through a range of big gun endorsements such as Nike and American Express. He then fulfilled the American dream – settled down with a nice girl, started a family over came the personal difficulties of losing his father and trainer to return to form.
But then, shock horror, came the news of his numerous affairs. The world’s media sat in moral indignation that a man who had it all had put it on the line for a quick bunk (er) up with a bevy of beauties. The tabloids were whipped in to a feeding frenzy. “Woods romped with neighbour’s daughter” screamed the Daily Mirror, “Foul Fourplay” declared The Star, and the News of the World put their LA Correspondent on the sole duty of finding other women with whom he’d played away.
Woods followed what has become an established route to redemption in (post) modern celebrity culture. He went to rehab and then confessed all and apologised to his family and fans.
The way media outlets handled Wood’s cringe worthy 13-and-a half minute public apology varied greatly. BBC online took it on face value, declaring it a “frank apology” and describing in detail mixed with timely reminders of his sporting achievement. The online version of The Sun used the apology as a launch pad to reveal they had “uncovered another lover”, and included a link to a full transcript of the apology, and The Times gave a straight account, alongside analysis from commentator Matthew Syed who questioned the authenticity of how Woods reflected on his experiences.
Syed’s criticism of Woods was interesting in terms of how the media view this type of self-reflection. Yes it was obviously carefully scripted, and yes even the hug at the end with his mother appeared staged. But judging the authenticity of his performance aside, to script this apology showed a great deal of self-reflection and acknowledgment of how one’s actions affect those around us.
Syed may sneer that it had it all; “regret, tears, apologies, dramatic pauses, meaningful glances, stern words about privacy, even religion.” But when scripting his apology it appears Woods deeply considered his actions and how it effected those around them. And moreover he understood that in this media savvy world, he had to attempt to wrap these reflections up in a way that could be consumed by a waiting international audience.
While I may have raised a cynical eyebrow at the fact that he revealed he had strayed from his Buddhist path and then apologised to his sponsors directly in the next breath, one part of his speech particularly showed deep reflection and learning from his actions and how it effected those he loved. And for me, this demonstrates what Action Research is really about.
With real honesty he declared: “I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me.
“I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn’t have to go far to find them. I was wrong. I was foolish. I don’t get to play by different rules.”
Yep Tiger, and hopefully you’ll do better in the future….